Lauryn Hill has issued a response to the harsh criticisms levied against her by Robert Glasper in a lengthy new testimonial published via Medium.
As the open letter begins,
I’ve remained patient and quiet for a very long time, allowing people to talk, speculate, and project, while keeping my nose to the grindstone fighting for freedoms many folks aren’t even aware matter. The arrogance of presumption that allows someone to think that they could have all the facts about another person’s life and experience, is truly and remarkably… presumptuous.
People can sometimes confuse kindness for weakness, and silence for weakness as well. When this happens, I have to speak up. … I apologize for the delay in getting this posted, I was late in hearing about it. I understand this is long, but my last interview was over a decade ago…
Hill goes on to address various points that Glasper made against her on the Mad Hatta Morning Show. Below, you can read some selected snippets from Hill’s piece pertaining to the points Glasper made about her in the aforementioned interview:
One of the central criticisms Glasper had for Ms. Hill was the notion that she failed to properly credit the artists she worked with on her Grammy-winning 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. As Glasper noted in his interview,
Glasper: You can’t come into a situation especially when you’ve already stolen all of my friends’ music. Miseducation was made by great musicians and producers that I know, personally. So you got a big hand off of music that you didn’t even write. You feel me though?
Host: Robert, you know she gon’ hear this?
Glasper: 100 percent. I’m ready. I don’t care because nothing I’m saying is a lie. Point to me where the lie is, then we can have a conversation. But if she looks at it, it’s 100 percent true— that’s why they got their money. …
She took the credit for making the classic album. Those songs were written by other people and they did not get their credit. She likes to take credit so she can become this super person. If you’re a super person and you’re that talented…
As Lauryn Hill responds in her letter,
You may be able to make suggestions, but you can’t write FOR me. I am the architect of my creative expression. No decisions are made without me. I hire master builders and masterful artisans and technicians who play beautifully, lend their technical expertise, and who translate the language that I provide into beautifully realized music. …
The Miseducation was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees who’s report and working relationship was clear. In an effort to create the same level of comfort, I may not have established the necessary boundaries and may have been more inviting than I should have been. In hindsight, I would have handled it differently for the removal of any confusion. And I have handled it differently since, I’m clear and I make clear before someone walks in the door what I am and am not looking for. I may have been inclusive, but these are my songs. …
I’m confused as to why such a principled musician, who thought I ‘stole’ from his friends, would show up to work for me anyway. If that was hypocrisy or opportunism instead of genuine interest, it would further explain why an artist would feel the need to put his or her guard up. …
The album inspired many people, from all walks of life, because of its radical(intense) will to live and to express Love. I appreciate everyone who was a part of it, in any and every capacity. It wouldn’t have existed the way that it did without the involvement, skill, hard work, and talents of the artists/musicians and technicians who were a part of it, but it still required my vision, my passion, my faith, my will, my soul, my heart, and my story.
Hill also responds to Glasper’s assertions that she frequently mistreats and disrespects the artists she hires as her backing band and has been known to fire and replace musicians mid-tour for seemingly arbitrary reasons. As Lauryn notes,
These are my songs, musicians are brought in because of the masterful way that they play their instruments. I’m definitely looking for something specific in musicians, and I absolutely do hire the best musicians I can find. Not every band had that particular ‘something’ I was looking for. That doesn’t make them bad musicians, just different than what I needed in that particular moment.
A fair weather band is a complete impracticality, a liability even. I’m expected, through my art, to pour out the depths of my soul. Some days that’s easier than others. If the crew of people supporting me aren’t built for that walk, they shouldn’t be there. #Realtalk. Some people vibe well together, some don’t. It’s ok. Ignorant patriarchy is a b#tch though,
I could speak volumes…
My standards are too high, and my process too idiosyncratic, not to work with people who really want to be there. When I don’t have that, I keep searching until I find them.
Glasper also made note of the rumors that Lauryn Hill required everyone to refer to her as “Ms. Hill,” and noted some highly influential and accomplished though modestly grounded musicians as a counterpoint to Hill’s behavior. As he mused,
That’s 100 percent true. … One of the days at rehearsal, she said, ‘Robert, I need you to…’ and I said, ‘Ok Lauryn.’ Respect, I respect.
I’ve met Stevie Wonder and hung out with Stevie Wonder. I’ve met Quincy Jones and hung out with Quincy Jones. I’ve met Herbie Hancock, hung out with Herbie Hancock. If those three people can be cool, Lauryn Hill should be able to be cool. You haven’t done enough to be the way you are.
Lauryn Hill responds,
I adore Stevie, and honor Herbie and Quincy, who are our forebears, but they’re not women. Men often can say ‘I want it done like this’ and not be challenged. The same rules don’t always apply for women who may be met with resistance. When this happens you replace that player with someone who respects you and the office you hold. …
And yes, Ms. Hill was absolutely a requirement. I was young, Black and female. Not everyone can work for and give the appropriate respect to a person in that package and in charge. It was important, especially then, for that to be revealed early.
You can watch Glasper’s full interview here, and read Lauryn Hill’s full response to his assertions and other prevailing rumors and opinions about her in her Medium letter here.